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How do Republicans and Democrats differ when it comes to addressing the border?

A trip to Yuma, Arizona helps explain a top issue in the midterm election
Mexico Border Migrant Camp Haitian Migrants
Posted at 4:00 AM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 11:32:06-04

YUMA, ARIZONA — With less than a month to go before the midterm elections, many issues are driving voters to the polls.

Two topics, immigration and the situation at our southern border, continue to come up on the campaign trail and in television ads.

So how do Democrats and Republicans differ regarding policy and what exactly is happening along the border?

A TRIP TO YUMA

To understand what's happening at our border, it helps to wake up before dawn.

Meet Fernando Quiroz with the Arizona-California Humanitarian Coalition, a non-profit that helps migrants.

"I normally get up at 2 a.m.," Quiroz says as he drives his pickup truck.

Quiroz says you have to wake up early to have the most impact.

After a brief drive in the dark, the situation at the border suddenly becomes clear: hundreds of men, women, and children lining up to be processed by border patrol.

Quiroz picks up trash, places water bottles at critical locations, and hands out water to migrants as they prepare for processing.

"You have to remember, we are in the southwest corner of Arizona," Quiroz said, explaining that it is cooler and safer to cross into the United States overnight.

Daytime highs, even in October, can reach the triple digits in Yuma.

Quiroz says this scene of hundreds of migrants appearing at the border occurs every day.

These individuals want to get caught and willingly line up so they can declare asylum.

After a few days in custody, they are typically released with the expectation they will attend a future court hearing.

Migrants in today's line are mainly from Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia, and even Georgia — in eastern Europe.

ONE MIGRANT'S STORY

"I am going to Savannah, Georgia," one migrant from Cuba tells our Joe St. George.

She is a teacher, which is why she is capable of giving an interview in English.

Most migrants here are uncomfortable speaking English or know no English at all.

To get to Yuma, she crossed through Nicaragua and Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

A dangerous journey that she says was worth it.

"You have to be tired," St. George asked.

"Yes, I am," she replied.

"People don't want to live anymore there, not even young people," she said, explaining why she left.

AN ISSUE IN THE ELECTION

Across the southern border in the last fiscal year – United States Customs and Border Protection encountered over 2 million migrants.

A new record.

For comparison, in 2019, there were 860,000 encounters.

Across the country, this election, Republicans have been campaigning heavily on this issue, referring to it as a crisis.

Many Democrats agree, but the policy ideas are vastly different.

Republican leaders in Congress want to fund building the wall that former President Donald Trump sought.

Democrats are against that, for the most part, supporting alternative security methods, like drones, instead.

Democrats, meanwhile, prefer a pathway to citizenship for many migrants here already.

Republicans have blocked that effort in Congress for the last several years.

"This is something that has to be addressed," Chief Border Patrol Agent Chris Clem of the Yuma Sector told our Joe St. George.

Clem isn't political, but he says it's pretty apparent the status quo isn't working.

He believes whatever party wins the election, both sides must come together for reform.

Clem would like more funding to help attract more agents, for instance.

While our cameras may have caught children and families, Clem says, we missed the drug smugglers who often get away.

That is a big part of the story too.

"Just last fiscal year, we had close to 150 pounds of fentanyl seizures in the Yuma sector alone," Clem said.

"That is potentially enough to kill 32 million people," Clem added.